Renowned activist Titewhai Harawira dies aged 90

Renowned activist, civil rights campaigner and matriarch Titewhai Harawira has died aged 90.  

Former MP Hone Harawira, one of her eight sons, shared the news on Facebook early on Wednesday morning.

Harawira said his mum will lay at rest at home in Avondale before going to Hoani Waititi Marae and being buried in Te Tai Tokerau in Northland. 

The fearless kuia from Ngāti Hau, Ngāti Wai, and Ngāti Hine famously guided politicians and Prime Ministers each year at Waitangi, sometimes challenging them too.

She fought to advance kaupapa Māori as a member of Ngā Tamatoa.

Over recent years, Titewhai had stood beside Prime Ministers Sir John Key, Jacinda Ardern and also the then-Prince Charles to welcome them to Te Tii Marae and the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.

Greens co-leader Marama Davidson paid tribute Titewhai on AM Early on Wednesday remembering her as a staunch advocate for Te Ao Māori

"I was privileged to attend her 90th birthday celebrations just last year, just before the end of the year because they had to postpone the actual event due to COVID-19, but my goodness what a gathering that really paid tribute to her," Davidson told AM Early host Oriini Kaipara.

"Imagine being an activist for that long, right till the end and the fullness of her life. Staunch and feisty for the entirety of her life, right from when she was a young girl …right through all of her years of mokopuna, great-grandchildren and just such a role model for those of us who are feeling tired after a few years of activism."

Kaipara also paid tribute to Titewhai on AM on Wednesday saying it was "very sad" news.

"No doubt, Māoridom and our country will be mourning her loss. I mean a significant figure up at Waitangi and we are just over a week away from celebrating our national day," Kaipara said. 

"Of course, a bit of contention over the years, watching her challenge a number of people, Māori and Pākehā alike, so I know her loss will be deeply felt up north."